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WASHINGTON (AP) -- An experimental drug has shown encouraging results in treating advanced breast cancer in an early clinical trial, pharmaceutical giant Pfizer reported Sunday.

Pfizer, the world's second largest drugmaker, said the drug prevented breast cancer from worsening for 20.2 months in a trial involving 165 patients. Current medications do so for 10.2 months. The drug, known as palbociclib, is among a new class of cancer drugs that target specific proteins to block tumors.

The outcome wasn't as positive as some initial results reported earlier in the tests, said University of Michigan business professor Erik Gordon, who studies the biomedical industry but isn't affiliated with the trial.

But, he added, "there's been a lot of hope surrounding this class of cancer drugs, and this keeps that hope alive."

Wall Street analysts have been closely watching the tests given the potential market for palbociclib. Breast cancer is the most common cancer to strike women.

"It's good news, but some investors are disappointed, because they expected more," Gordon said. In earlier results, the drug had kept the cancer from worsening for 18 additional months, rather than 10.

The results were presented by the lead researcher, Dr. Richard S. Finn, associate professor of medicine at UCLA, during the annual meeting of the American Association of Cancer Research in San Diego.

The drug will likely need to undergo broader testing with more patients before the Food and Drug Administration will approve it. The FDA sometimes accelerates approval for drugs that show promise.

Other companies, including Eli Lilly and Novartis, have similar medications that are also in clinical trials.

Pfizer's fledgling cancer drug business has been a recent bright spot for the company, which has many older drugs that will soon lose patent protection.

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Cardinals held to 3 hits by Pirates pitching

Sunday, 06 April 2014 19:26 Published in Sports
 
PITTSBURGH (AP) -- It seemed every time the St. Louis Cardinals hit a ball hard Sunday a Pittsburgh Pirates fielder was there to make the play.
 
Sometimes it was just good conventional defense that stymied the Cardinals' hitters. Other times, the Pirates' shifts made the difference.
 
The Cardinals managed just three hits as Edinson Volquez pitched well for 5 2-3 innings before Tony Sanchez hit a tiebreaking RBI double in the seventh inning to give the Pirates a 2-1 victory.
 
"They did seem to always have a guy in the right place," said Cardinals manager Mike Matheny, whose team is hitting just .186 through the first six games of the season. "The hitters know the alignment when they step into the box, so I don't think the shift is having an effect on them. We just want our hitters to think about playing to their strengths instead of worrying about shifts."
 
The right-hander had a 5.71 earned run average with the San Diego Padres and Los Angeles Dodgers last season. That was the worst mark among the 81 major league pitchers who qualified for the ERA title.
 
However, Volquez looked like he was worth the one-year, $5-million contract Sunday following a spring in which he allowed 15 runs in 13 innings.
 
"What you saw was fastball command with downhill angle, big-time spin and tilt on the breaking ball, a good changeup and getting ahead with good pitches," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "He pitched a gem."
 
Sanchez's double to deep center field with two outs came off Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright (1-1) and snapped a 1-1 tie.
 
The hit by the rookie reserve catcher scored Pedro Alvarez, who led off the inning with a walk, and was Sanchez's second game-winning hit of the week as he singled home the winning run in the 16th inning of Wednesday night's victory over the Cubs.
 
Tony Watson (1-0) retired all four batters he faced, striking out three, and ran his string of consecutive scoreless innings to 24, since last season. Jason Grilli pitched a scoreless ninth for his first save.
 
Wainwright went seven innings and allowed two runs and five hits after pitching seven scoreless innings in his first start of the season at Cincinnati in Monday's opener. He struck out seven and walked two.
 
"I can't let what happen in the seventh inning happen, especially in a close game, a rivalry game like this," Wainwright said. "I walked the leadoff man then left a ball out over the plate with two outs and Sanchez took a good swing at it. You can't do that."
 
The Pirates opened the scoring in the fourth inning when Andrew McCutchen doubled with one out and scored on Neil Walker's two-out double.
 
An RBI triple by the Cardinals' Jon Jay in the sixth tied the score at 1-1 and chased Volquez.
 
NOTES: St. Louis CF Peter Bourjos, who is off to a 0-for-13 start, got the day off and Jay started in his place. The Cardinals acquired Bourjos from the Los Angeles Angels in an offseason trade. ... Former RHP Chris Carpenter, who retired at the end of last season and won the 2005 NL Cy Young Award, will throw out the ceremonial pitch at the Cardinals' home opener Monday against the Reds as RHP Michael Wacha (0-0, 0.00) faces LHP Tony Cingrani (0-0, 0.00). . RHP Jameson Taillon, Pittsburgh's top pitching prospect, will undergo Tommy John surgery at a date to be determined with David Altcheck performing the operation in New York and miss 12 to 18 months. ... Pirates C Chris Stewart (right knee) began a rehab assignment Sunday with high Class A Bradenton and LHP Jeff Locke (right oblique) will join him Thursday.

Blackhawks topple Blues 4-2

Sunday, 06 April 2014 19:24 Published in Sports
 
CHICAGO (AP) -- Rookie Jeremy Morin scored and set up Patrick Sharp's go-ahead goal in the second period, and the injury-depleted Chicago Blackhawks held on to defeat the St. Louis Blues 4-2 on Sunday afternoon for their third straight win.
 
The Blackhawks ground out the victory despite skating without injured star forwards Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane for the third game. Forward Brandon Saad was a last-minute scratch.
 
Marcus Kruger and Ben Smith also scored for Chicago, which closed to one point behind Colorado for second place in the Central Division and home ice in the first round of the playoffs. The Blackhawks have three games left. The Avalanche, who host Pittsburgh on Sunday night, have five games left.
 
Jaden Schwartz and Vladimir Sobotka connected for St. Louis, which lost its second straight and remained two points behind idle Boston for the NHL's overall point lead and race for the Presidents' Trophy.
 
Both the Blues and Bruins have four games remaining.
 
Chicago's Corey Crawford made 21 saves and St. Louis' Brian Elliott made 31.
 
The Blues skated without two of their top forwards, including leading goal scorer Alexander Steen who missed his third game with an upper-body injury. Vladimir Tarasenko has been sidelined since mid-March with a hand injury.
 
The Blues, who were shut out by Colorado on Saturday, have scored two goals or fewer in eight of their past 10 games.
 
Toews, Chicago's captain, sat out his third game with an upper-body injury suffered last Sunday when he was drilled by Pittsburgh defenseman Brooks Orpik.
 
Kane, who has resumed skating, missed his ninth with a lower-body injury suffered against the Blues on March 19.
 
Toews and Kane are expected to return for the start of the playoffs.
 
Chicago dominated territorially in the chippy first period and outshot the Blues 11-3, but trailed 1-0 after 20 minutes.
 
Schwartz's power-play goal at 1:57 of the first opened the scoring. After taking Brenden Morrow's pass, Schwartz fired from the left circle, but his shot hit traffic in front of the net and bounded back to him. His second shot got through the screen and beat Crawford low.
 
Crawford made a pad save on Patrik Berglund's short-handed breakaway attempt midway through the first.
 
Elliott stopped several prime Chicago chances in the final minutes of the first as Chicago turned up the pressure. With 1:30 to go, he blocked a point-blank short-handed shot by Marian Hossa, who rocketed in alone past Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo.
 
Morin tied it at 1 at 8:34 of the second, when he drove to the net and pushed in a rebound of Bryan Bickell's shot. Bickell had picked off a pass at center ice before cruising back into the Blues' zone and firing from the left circle.
 
Sharp put Chicago ahead 2-1 with 27 seconds left in the second when he completed a 2-on-1 break with Morin. Morin carried the puck down the right side, then passed to Sharp who fired a shot past Elliott's stick side from the left circle.
 
Kruger made it 3-1 just 56 seconds into the third. Elliott got a piece of Joakim Nordstrom's shot from the right wing, but the puck trickled to the left goal post. Kruger punched it in.
 
Sobotka cut it to 3-2 with 2:02 left when his flipping shot from the left wing knuckled under Crawford's glove. Smith scored into an empty-net with 3.3 seconds left.
 
NOTES: Blackhawks D Johnny Oduya sat out his third game with a lower-body injury. Healthy scratches for Chicago were D David Rundblad and forwards Teuvo Teravainen and Matt Carey. ... Blues scratches were defensemen Ian Cole and Jordan Leopold and F Dmitrij Jaskin.

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